One of the best hockey players that our nation has ever had, Dhyan Chand. Not only did he make our country's name shine in International sports events, but the way he played hockey was so iconic, that the defenders would look as if they have no idea what's going on between the ball and his hockey stick. Chand played a pivotal role in India winning three consecutive Olympic gold medals in 1928, 1932 and 1936. His birth anniversary, 29th August, is celebrated as the National Sports Day in India and the President gives away awards such as Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Arjuna and Dronacharya awards on this day.
Let's take a look at 10 Interesting things about "Hockey Wizard of India" Dhyan Chand:
1. Dhyan Chand joined the Indian Army at the age of 16 and took up hockey while he was still enrolled. Since Dhyan Chand used to practice a lot during the night, he was given the nickname "Chand" by his fellow players; his practice sessions at night invariably coincided with the coming out of the moon. ‘Chand’ means moon in Hindi.
2. Dhyan Chand was the leading goal-scorer at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics with 14 goals. A news report about India’s victory said “This is not a game of hockey, but magic. Dhyan Chand is, in fact, the magician of hockey.”
3. Even though Dhyan Chand was involved in many memorable matches, he considers a particular hockey match to be his best. “If anybody asked me which was the best match that I played in, I will unhesitatingly say that it was the 1933 Beighton Cup final between Calcutta Customs and Jhansi Heroes.”
4. In the 1932 Summer Olympics, India beat USA 24-1 and Japan 11-1. Dhyan Chand scored 12 goals while his brother Roop Singh netted 13 out of the 35 goals India scored. This led to them being dubbed the 'hockey twins'.
5. Once, when Dhyan Chand was unable to score in a match, he argued with the match referee about the measurement of the goal post. To everybody’s amazement, he was right; the goal post was found to be in contravention of the official minimum width prescribed under international rules.
6. After India’s first match at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, people watching other sporting events thronged to the hockey stadium. A German newspaper carried a banner headline: 'The Olympic complex now has a magic show too.' The whole city of Berlin had posters: “Visit the hockey stadium to watch the Indian magician Dhyan Chand in action.”
7. According to widespread reports, German dictator Adolf Hitler offered Dhyan Chand German citizenship and a position in the German Military, after an impressive showing at the Berlin Olympics. The offer was declined by the Indian magician.
8. Australian great Don Bradman met Dhyan Chand at Adelaide in 1935. After watching him play, Bradman remarked, "He scores goals like runs in cricket".
9. Hockey authorities in the Netherlands once broke his hockey stick to check if there was a magnet inside.
10. Dhyan Chand has scored over 400 goals in his career spanning 22 years (1926-48).